News round-up: Fierce competition for students means some universities risk bankruptcy

The UK spends less on R&D than Iceland, the new Welsh funding regime is less generous than it seems and the removal of the cap on student numbers has led to some universities losing out in the fight for students


UK flounders behind Iceland, Luxembourg and Denmark for University R&D spend

FE News, 30/08/2018, Rupert Bhatia

The amount Britain’s universities are spending on research and development is being dwarfed by their European neighbours, according to analysis of OECD data by R&D tax specialists Catax.

The UK spends 0.42% of its GDP on university-based R&D which translates to just £3,587 for each of the country’s 2.3 million students in higher education.


‘Don’t copy Welsh funding regime without considering trade-offs’

Times Higher Education, 30/08/2018, Anna McKie

It has been billed as “the most generous student maintenance package in the UK”, but a new analysis highlights that Wales’ new funding regime may not be quite as rosy as at first glance.

A report by the Higher Education Policy Institute, published on 30 August, highlights that the reforms being introduced for new entrants in 2018-19 mean that poorer Welsh students will get less maintenance support up front and will leave university with more debt than in previous years.


Study: millions of students guilty of contract cheating worldwide
Times Higher Education, 30/08/2018, Anna McKie

A landmark study has revealed a rapid increase in the use of contract cheating by students at universities around the world.

Based on recent surveys, the paper concludes that as many as one in seven recent graduates may have recruited someone else to undertake an assignment for them – potentially representing 31 million learners across the globe.


Cut-throat A-level season ‘pushing some universities towards insolvency’

The Guardian, 28/08/2018, Anna Fazackerley

Some universities may be pushed to the brink of insolvency after the most cut-throat A-level student recruitment round vice-chancellors can remember, experts are warning.

The removal of the cap on the number of students universities can recruit, combined with a demographic fall in the number of 18-year-olds, has created a fierce new market in higher education. Prestigious universities are sucking up students who might previously have chosen mid-ranking institutions. The knock-on effect is leaving some universities without enough students – and their £9,250 fees.


Unconditional offers use ‘still low in Russell Group’

Times Higher Education, 28/08/2018, Simon Baker

Just a handful of universities in the Russell Group of UK research intensives are making unconditional offers to prospective undergraduates before they get their exam results, according to a survey by Times Higher Education.

More than half of the group said in response to Freedom of Information requests that they did not use such offers, suggesting that their use is still mainly being driven by less selective universities in the sector.


Crick chief voices fears over post-Brexit visa regime

Times Higher Education, 28/08/2018, Rachel Pells

The leader of Europe’s largest biomedical research institute has warned that restrictions on researcher mobility post-Brexit would have a disastrous impact on science and has questioned whether a new UK visa scheme will resolve his concerns.


‘Hasty’ funding calls ‘prejudiced against women and carers’

Times Higher Education, 23/08/2018, Rachel Pells

“Hasty” grant calls demanding tight deadlines for research proposals are discriminatory against women and those with caring responsibilities, academics have warned.

funding call announced this month by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council sparked warnings that average call turnaround times are becoming shorter, making applications all but impossible for those who are not “plugged into” the right networks. The ESRC invited proposals for research projects on management practices and employee engagement on 6 August, with a closing date of 18 September, giving academics 31 working days to apply.


HE should take over FE’s sub-degree courses, says Hepi report

Times Higher Education, 23/08/2018, Anna McKie

Sub-degree higher education courses in England should be delivered mainly in universities, not further education colleges, according to a report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

The report, written by London South Bank University vice-chancellor Dave Phoenix, says that if the government wants to address the growing skills gap in the UK, it has to reverse the decline in Level 4 and Level 5 qualifications – such as foundation degrees or Higher National Certificates or Diplomas – particularly in technical subjects.